The Masonic Charitable Foundation has donated £58,321 to Sparks, a charity which raises funds to support pioneering children’s medical research. This grant will fund research into the development of visual impairment screening methods for children with cerebral palsy as currently there is no routine assessment to test visual function in the most severely disabled children.
To mark the grant, London Freemason, Trevor, met with members of the research team at University College London.
Visual problems in children with cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy affects more than 25,000 children and young people across the UK. It is caused by brain damage during pregnancy or early infancy and can lead to developmental problems.
Children with severe cerebral palsy often have limited mobility and verbal skills and therefore rely heavily on their vision for communication and learning. Some have limited speech or produce no sound at all. For these children, their vision is essential to the way they interact with and learn from the world around them.
Unfortunately, children with cerebral palsy also have a greater risk of experiencing visual problems, yet these problems are often missed or misdiagnosed. This can result in social isolation and can have a long term impact on learning, social development and mental health. It is therefore vital to be able to identify children who have visual impairments in order to provide effective treatments.
Potential impact of research
The research, led by Dr Michael Clarke, will focus on developing a simple and robust screening tool to identify those children in need of further specialist assessment. It is the team’s vision that this standardised test could be used by doctors nationwide
This research could be life-changing for children who rely on their vision to interact with others. It will enable these children to access the best possible care, dramatically improving their development, learning and quality of life.
To learn more about Sparks and the research they fund, please visit www.sparks.org.uk